Government and private business

For the first time since the last election I find myself questioning the Liberal government in Canada. The big news this week was 8 plant closures by GM world wide. One of those closures is in Ontario and the local union is being very vocal about the decision. On CBC-1 today there was an open discussion on wether the government should get involved. Almost every caller said yes.

I don’t get it. The business is failing mostly because of a changing market place, declining quality, lack of innovation and a general inability to compete.

The plant in question is a major employer in the area and I feel sorry for the workers that will lose their jobs next summer, but I don’t believe that the government should interfere with the nature order of things. When I was a much younger man, I was a dedicated GM enthusiast. Over the past 20 years however, quality has steadily declined and the models have been uninspiring.

Tesla on the other hand, is the first new North American car company in decades and they have innovated to the point of revolutionizing the auto industry. They fearlessly try new things and although they continuously flirt with bankruptcy, they seem to be hanging in there. Musk was quoted in the book “Musk” saying that the purpose of Tesla was to prove to other car manufacturers that there was a market for electric cars. He continued to say that the long term life of Tesla was not a priority especially if other car companies got the message. He has always welcomed competition and it looks like he may get some soon.

If the Canadian Government wants to save the jobs in Ontario, they should save their money and approach someone like Musk to see if he wants a manufacturing facility in Canada. They could give it away and it would cost less than propping up a failing business. In the past the government has thrown money at companies like Chrysler and Ford so they would  keep jobs in Canada only to have them walk away a few years later. Chrysler for example merged with Fiat and said the new company would not honour deals made by the old company.

It seems clear to me that the government should stay out of private industry and let the market decide who wins and loses. If they want to invest, pick someone who is an innovator. Someone who would build something new that Canada could use to compete on a global stage. Maybe Teslsa could open a plant in Ontario and build the “Model 4” or maybe some other young Canadian University graduate (Like Musk) could build a completely new form of autonomous transport for the world’s aging population.

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The state of things

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who pointed out that I haven’t been doing a lot of writing. I think I’m getting caught up in the crazy epidemic that seems to be happening around me and I’m spending more effort than I should trying to understand it.

There has definitely been a theme to my last few posts and today is no exception. I experienced another example on the way to work this morning that made me realize that people like Mr. Trump have always existed around me, but their actions were suppressed by social pressure to behave. Now that a world leader demonstrates daily that it’s ok to say stupid things, it’s ok to arbitrarily treat people with no respect and it’s ok to make up facts to fit his reality, people like him feel empowered do the same.

This morning I was waiting in a line of cars to turn left and a guy in an over sized white pickup truck drives down the shoulder past the five cars in line and blocks my view of the intersection so he can jump the queue and turn right. That in itself angered me and the other people in line, but just before he turns he looks at me smiles and waves.

The voice of reason in the back of my head says, “maybe he’s just friendly” or “maybe he has an emergency”, then reality kicks me in the back of the head and says “no he’s just a dick”. Then to make matters worse, a second guy from the end of the line does the same thing. I realize that being a dick is contagious!

I have to slap myself and say out loud that I refuse to be inconsiderate. I will force myself to be fair and when I am treated with disrespect I will hold my ground.

Then the anger passes and I realize that I am giving inconsiderate people power over me by acknowledging their actions.

So what’s the take away?

  • Celebrate the considerate and thoughtful people in your life.
  • Vote!  It is important to have the right people in office.
  • Help to restore social expectations.
  • Use your access to the Internet to call people out when they make up facts.
  • Don’t Panic [grin]
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Is it just me?

I have noticed that social interactions espically with strangers, have really changed in the last year. I think that Mr. Trump has made it acceptable to speak openly with less regard for political correctness and rational thought. Patience seems to be in short supply and fringe groups are organizing into gangs that share similar views. Car horns are working over time and there seems to be a trend toward short sightedness.

One major problem with this change is that the groups are empowered by what they read on the Internet and in the Media and they actually believe they are right. I am astounded by some of the claims that I have heard people make in social conversations and wonder what will happen when their positions are proven to be wrong.

In some of my weaker moments I have tried to inject some facts into these conversations and they are immediately rejected as “Fake News”. I guess the only thing rational people can do is keep quite and let the train wreck happen.

A popular saying in the medical community is “You cannot fix Stupid”. That may be true but it would be nice if we could find a way to work around it.

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headlines

For those of you who don’t live in Ontario, we have a new premiere. That would be like a state governor for my American friends and family. The new premieres name is Doug Ford and he is the brother of the former mayor of Toronto. He was elected in a fog of controversy that included charges for mismanaging funds brought against him by other family members. The Ontario voters were so focused on getting rid of the person in power that they did not seem to pay a lot of attention to who they were electing. Mr Ford has proven to be a short sighted clone of Mr Trump in his first few weeks in office.

What has he done so far?

  • He put an end to Ontario’s cap and trade program, which caps greenhouse emissions while allowing major polluters to buy and trade exemptions in the form of carbon credits.
  • He’s backing away from funding refugee resettlement and blaming the liberal government for what he calls a refugee mess.
  • He dialed back pharmacare by restricting the benefit to those without some form of private health coverage.
  • He delayed the implementation of stronger police oversight.
  • He paused plans to control the ticket-scalping industry.
  • He delayed new vaccine reporting requirements.
  • He delayed the onset of new anti-vaping laws.
  • He fired Ontario’s first-ever chief scientist.
  • He fired the head of Ontario Hydro and paid millions in severances.
  • He cancelled the electric car rebate and put a hold on implementing new changing stations.
  • He scrapped the Ontario sex education curriculum and reinstated the outdated old one.

In each case Mr. Fords reasons for these changes are lame and lean towards Mr. Trump’s vision that the world was much better off 40 years ago so we need to take a step back.

The chaos has just begun in Ontario but this form of regression has happened over and over again in history. It’s long past time for political reform. If the parties can’t pick leaders that the people want to vote for and the parties can’t implement policies that implement what the majority want, the system has failed us

 

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Open Mic Tonight!!

Hey Everyone,

I will be hosting the Open Mic tonight at the Royal Oak on March Road in Kanata. Come on out and help me entertain the crowd. The music starts and 8PM and goes until midnight. I will have a spare guitar if you don’t want to bring your own.

..FG..

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Who wins in a trade war??

What is a trade war?

A trade war is when countries impose tariffs on each other in an attempt to level the playing field with respect to manufacturing costs and cost of living in the different locations. Unfortunately, Governments sometimes impose tariffs to give their local manufacturers a trade advantage. In either case, tariffs result in counter tariffs.

Trade wars slow down business activity around the globe by restricting international trade. Trade wars have lead to global depressions like “The Great Depression”

Ask any economist and they will tell you that no one wins a trade war.

Some less informed leaders believe that a trade war is “good” and “easy to win.” but here are the facts.

Prices will go up

In a trade war, consumers and businesses have to pay more and pass that on to their consumers.

Tariffs imposed on raw materials effect the price of finished goods. When imported materials cost more, local producers tend to raise their prices to create a higher overall market price. No one wants to leave money on the table.

The bottom lines is that everyone pays more.

Businesses will lose sales

Trading countries will retaliate with tariffs and restrictions on goods and services, making them more expensive, and less competitive.

When companies lose contracts to sell their products in other countries, it can take a long time to win that business back. Their customers will find other, more dependable suppliers while the trade war is waged and have no reason to switch back if things return to normal.

With a lack of exports comes a lack of jobs and those jobs will be in all sectors of the market. Products will be effected first, but services may have a bigger impact.

In some cases countries negotiated to protect things like patents as part of trade deals. If the deals fall apart, the negotiated conditions will no longer be binding.

Trading partners tend to also be lenders

Many of the first world countries are carrying large debts and those depts are being financed by countries that they trade with.

If trade is restricted there is no motivation for trading partners to finance debt so interest rates will go up. With higher interest rates, banks will be much more cautious when it comes to personal and business loans making it harder to get money. If countries default on debts their credit rating is negatively effected and it is that much harder for them to recover after the fact.

A lack of financing will effect new business and home starts and banks may be forced to foreclose on assets in order to deal with loan defaults.

The end result is a stagnant economy that slides into a depression.

How do we avoid a trade war

If a country tries to start a trade war, they don’t understand the fundamentals of trade. A lack of leadership and understanding takes years to fix, so it’s best to let them be.

Countries with more experienced and reasonable leadership should seek each other out and strike new relationships to rebalance global trade.

    The bottom line is “No one wins a trade war”

 

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To my American friends and family

I recently made the mistake of commenting on facebook after Mr Trump tried to tell Canada how to manage its dairy industry and threatened more trade sanctions. He seems to believe that he can tell every country in the world what to do and follows every command with a threat. Is that not the definition of a bully? I’ve spoken to my brother-in-laws in the USA and they explained to me that they elected Trump to clean up the corruption in Washington. In that, he seems to be doing a good job. He’s not your typical politician and he does not tolerate political stupidity.

Unfortunately the way that Mr Trump is accomplishing what his people asked him to do is damaging the reputation of Americans in the eyes of the rest of the world. I don’t think that many Americans trust the news to believe what is really going on. I’m guilty of not trusting the news because I have personally been misquoted by the media. It seems that the media has it’s own agenda and that has negatively effected their credibility over the past couple of decades.

So where does that leave the rest of the world? We are on the outside shaking our head at how the American people can be mislead by competing media organizations while their president gets things done by being a bully and forcing his will on the rest of us. I don’t think the American public are to blame because they don’t know (or don’t care) what is going on outside their boarders. They have enough troubles at home.

In much the same way that Hitler mislead his people by focusing on issues at home and quietly targeting ethnic groups, Trump has the ability to blind and mislead the American public. The media can’t report the news because they have no credibility and Trump has an excuse for every childish tweet.

When all the dust settles I’m afraid that Americans will no longer be welcome in any country but their own. It will take decades for the rest of the world to believe that America wants to participate in  making the world a better place. The really sad part is many Americans don’t know what their government is doing to them.

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Celebrating 60 years!!!

Hey Readers,

If you’re in Kanata Ontario tomorrow night, stop by the Royal Oak on March road between 8 and midnight to help me celebrate 60 Years. I have an evening of live music in store with performances by a number of friends and my band.

Ther weather man is calling for snow, but we live in Canada so that’s no big deal.

Hope to see you all there….

..FG..

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Personal rights and the Internet of Things

Last week I received an email from the manufacturer stating that my high tech bathroom scale would no longer support pulse wave velocity. Pulse wave velocity is a measure of the time it takes for blood from your heart to reach your feet and is an indicator of arterial health. If your arteries are hard, the blood will get there quickly and if they are soft, the initial pulse will be delayed by the expansion of the vein.

This is a measurement that used to cost people money and was only performed in special facilities. The note from the manufacturer said:

“With our Body Cardio product, we brought Pulse Wave Velocity to a home scale for the first time. After routine review, we now believe that this feature may require a different level of regulatory approval. In light of this, we have decided to deactivate the Pulse Wave Velocity feature on January 24. As a result, Pulse Wave Velocity readings will no longer appear on the scale screen nor will they be viewable in the Health Mate app. Your data will be retained and is downloadable. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and we invite you to read our FAQ page where you’ll find out more, including how to retrieve your Pulse Wave Velocity history if you wish.”

There are many different ways to interpret this statement but it seems that some external group forced the change. No further details are provided in any of the FAQ’s.

So the manufacturer did not ask for my permission, they virtually entered my home and removed functionality from a product that I already paid for. I wrote an email telling them that I did not want them to do this, but they did it anyway. I can’t pinpoint why I feel that I have been wronged, but it’s a strong feeling and I’m sure I will be able to articulate it eventually.

So I guess the concept of purchasing a product is changing and ownership has been blurred. I have so many questions…

Does this mean that IoT products will never truly be ours? Is it ok to allow external product producers to enter our home networks to modify their products? Should producers ask for permission or do they have the right to just change things? Was this an action to avoid a copyright infringement? If it is, is it right for me to suffer for someone elses mistake? Should this be tested in court?

What do you guys think?

 

..FG..

 

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Cyber Terrorism

If you have been following my BLOG you would know that my family has recently suffered a loss.

To add to that loss, my sister has had her memories stolen by a cyber terrorist. The family PC has fallen victim to CBT-Locker which is a ransomware program that encrypts all of your photos and text documents with a very strong encryption. They give you the public key and tell you to send them money to get the private key.

From what I have read online, there is no counter measure at the moment, so all we can do is preserve the files and the public key and hope that someone figures out a way to reverse the encryption.

So my sister lost her husband, her oldest daughter and large part of her memories.

You can imagine that this makes me very angry and makes me wonder what kind of people stoop to extortion to fund their other despicable acts.

The message we want to send to those people is not something that I want to say here, but you can image that it would be filled with a lot of explicatives.

What I can say is “We will not pay the ransom !!!”

 

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